Style - probably not something you conscientiously think about on a daily basis. In the big scheme of our busy lives, is style really something we should preoccupy our minds with? Is it just vanity, wanting to look good and live nicely, or is there psychology behind it?
Well, as someone who works with style for a living, I have, of course, strong feelings and opinions about this subject. From my college education, to working with my clients for nearly two decades, I've gotten both theoretical and practical examples of the affects and impacts our style choices, or sometimes lack thereof, have on our daily life.
Style is so much more than just aesthetics - it affects your daily life, in so many important ways. It is a part of who you are!
"Because First Impressions Last"
Did you know that you have less than 7 seconds to make a first impression? And yes, just like the old Axe Body Spray tagline states, it takes a whole lot longer than so to change that impression. Actually, research has shown that it takes about 10 encounters to change your initial mind. Why? Because we don't want to be wrong! Our brain will fight any contradictory thoughts tooth and nail. When forming a first impression, the biggest impact is the visual. In other worlds, how you look will by far speak louder than any of your other characteristics when meeting someone new. And yet, most of us spend the majority of our focus thinking about what we're going to say. Sorry, but the mind has already been up made before you open your mouth!
Everything About You Speaks!
This line perfectly summarizes everything I do in my business. It's because of this reason I decided to pursue degrees in both Interiors and Image, to be able to deliver an Integrated approach to style - because It's all connected! It's not just the clothes you're wearing that says something about you, or the home you live in. Everything attached to you, or associated with you, says something about you. It's your hair, your clothes, your accessories, your shoes, the car you drive, the curb appeal of your house, the cards you send, the photos you post, the flowers you buy, etc etc. It all combined paints a picture of you, your values, and the image your trying to portray. It's your personal brand. Your style is the silent ambassador of your personal brand. The visual expression of who you are. It's important that it says exactly what you want it to say.
"Find out who you are and do it on purpose" - Dolly Parton Well spoken, Dolly! No wonder she is one of the most iconic figures of our generation. Always nu-apologetically true to herself. So do we have to go through extremes in order to create a strong personal brand? Absolutely not! You just have to be authentically YOU - and do it consistently. Consistency creates credibility. Your purse will speak the same language as your house, and your Facebook feed. You will be in charge of the first impression you create - and it will be truly stylish!
Not only will our style affect the way we present ourselves to the world around us. It also affects us personally. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that the clothes we put on, and the environment we live and work in can have a major impact on our emotions, mood, and performance.
To start, lets dive in and look at our personal style, and how it affects our life.
How we perceive our own appearance can have a direct impact on our mental health. Not feeling comfortable or confident in what we wear can increase our stress level. We get preoccupied with concerns about how our outfit makes us look and/or feel, which inhabits our cognitive ability to deal with the true task at hand. In other words, instead of concentrating on the reason we are there in the first place (work, meeting, party, date, etc.), we are stressing out about how we look. This is the reason why a lot of successful people tend to wear a "work uniform". I am not talking about required uniforms like scrubs, or business suits. Instead, this is a chosen uniform that eliminates the stress of choosing what to wear, and the commentary from the people around you. If you wear the same thing everyday, people will stop talking about it. Great examples of this is Steve Jobs and his black turtle neck, and Mark Zuckerberg with his gray t-shirt and hoodie.
What you choose to wear can and will affect how you perform. In July 2012, the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology introduced a term for this called Enclothed Cognition. The experiments showed the co-occurrence of two independent factors that played a crucial role:
The symbolic meaning of the clothes (i.e. the brand, the status)
The physical experience of wearing them (how you feel when you wear them)
Wearing the proper clothes for a job leads to positive effects on your ability to focus and perform. You look and feel "the part." We also tend to manifest what we see in ourselves. If you see yourself as a potential success, you will be one.
As we have established so far; the clothes you wear have a real impact on how you feel and perform. This effects how you present yourself, which in turn effects how others perceive you.
Deion Sanders got it right when he said:
"When you look good, you feel good. When you feel good, you play good. When you play good, they pay good."
According to a study from sociologists Jaclyn Wong at the University of Chicago and Andrew Penner at the University of California, Irvine, women in any profession who spend more time on their appearances, get taken more seriously, more easily get promoted, and make more money.
The premium they make for looking good at work is almost entirely based on how well-groomed they are, not on being naturally good-looking. So, according to this study, the more time you spend in the bathroom, the more money you make. Sounds pretty crazy, right!
So, how does this all play out during a pandemic with most of us adapting a much more casual dress code and less makeup? Have we gotten a lot less productive? Are we not taken as seriously? Well, too early to tell, but it will be an interesting study.
Is Your Home Holding You Back?
Let's move on and go inside for a little bit. Let's look at the environment around us, and why our interior style and design matters just as much as our personal one.
Since the beginning, humans have needed to be sensitive to their surroundings to survive, which means that we have a natural awareness of our surroundings and seek out environments with certain qualities.
First of all, we have a strong need for safety and security and look for those attributes in our environment. We also look for physical and psychological comfort, such as the right temperature, familiarity, and the right amount of stimulus.
While so much of our life these days is out of our control, our home is the one place we can have total jurisdiction over. But when that doesn't happen, when our homes and our work spaces get out of hand, our physical and mental responses can be pretty severe.
If you don't create and control your environment, your environment will create and control you!
Cluttered Space, Cluttered Brain
Research shows that cluttered home and work environments take a toll on your brain, your mental well-being, and your overall health.
Your brain actually likes organization. Constantly seeing disorganization makes it harder for your brain to focus. Studies have shown that cortisol (the stress hormone) levels are higher in people who have a cluttered home. Chronic clutter can leave your body constantly in a low-grade fight-or-flight mode, which is taxing on your body and mind.
To add to that - clutter is linked to poor eating habits! A messy environment can make you indulge in more unhealthy snacks. And the wrong foods have a negative impact on brain health and your overall health.
Just like clutter increases your stress level, there are ways interior design and style can calm your senses. As a matter of fact, contact with nature may reduce stress, improve memory and increase feelings of kindness, happiness and creativity. Daily nature walks not on your schedule? Then bring nature inside! Including natural elements in your decor, such as plants, flowers, and wood will do the trick. And no, they don't have to be real. Adding green plants can provide dual benefits. The color green can actually promote feelings of safety, hope, and revitalization, which is exactly how you want to feel when entering your home.
Speaking of color, artists and interior designers have long believed that color can dramatically affect moods, feelings, and emotions. While perceptions of color are somewhat subjective, there are some color effects that have universal meaning. For example:
Blue calls to mind feelings of calmness or serenity. It is often described as peaceful, tranquil, secure, and orderly. Blue is often used to decorate offices because research has shown that people are more productive in blue rooms.
Red provokes the strongest emotions of any color and is considered the warmest and most contradictory of the colors. Red is linked to passion and love as well as power and anger. The color is also known to increase your appetite by increasing your metabolism, which is why red is such a popular color in restaurants.
Yellow is the most visible color and attention-getting color. Yellow is also the most fatiguing to the eye due to the high amount of light that is reflected. Yellow can also create feelings of frustration and anger. While it is considered a cheerful color, people are more likely to lose their tempers in yellow rooms and babies tend to cry more in yellow rooms.
Help To Guide You Right
STYLE IS NOT A QUESTION OF AGE, SIZE, OR BUDGET - it's a question of knowing yourself, and staying consistent.
Knowledge & Consistency creates Confidence, in yourself, and Credibility in how others see you.
Of course, it doesn't happen overnight. Knowing what's exactly right for you, and doing so consistently takes a little work. But it's definitely doable! I see it everyday with my clients and students.
But getting started can be a little daunting. "Where do I start, and what parts to I need to explore about myself, and what questions do I need to ask?"
To make it easy, accessible, and affordable, I created a digital course to help you answer along the way! You will learn the What, the Why, and the How of style, how to identify your own unique personal style brand, and how to express it - from the way you Look to the way you Live. To find out more information about the "Bring Your Style Bootcamp" click the image below:
Thank you for sticking with me all the way to the end! And because you have been such a good sport, I want to make sure I don't leave your empty handed. So here is a little help! Identifying your favorite style categories is an important part of your style journey, and therefore, I have created two separate guides that you can download for FREE:
STYLE AVATAR GUIDE: This one is for the ladies only (male one is in the works!). Identifies 8 different Style Avatars that you can mix and match and draw influence from to create your own! Click the link below to download:
INTERIOR STYLE GUIDE: It can be a jungle out there with all the different interior styles, trends, and influences. Therefore, I've taken the most popular styles and influences at the moment, and explained their aesthetics and characteristics a little more in this Guide. Again, very few of us will like only ONE. Your unique style lies in your personal mix. Click below to download:
Until next time, Chick Happens!